My Response to the Article: ‘Why a Christian Woman’s Place is Outside the Home’.
So this week I read an article written in the Atlantic titled ‘Why a Christian Woman’s Place is Outside the Home.’ The article (by Jonathon Merritt) was based on a book by Katelyn Beaty. Ms Beaty’s first book ‘A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home and the World’ is due to be published this month, and I would very much like to read it. The article can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/the-conservative-christian-case-for-working-women/490025/?utm_source=atltw. Please have a read and let me know what you think.
Usually if I read something on the internet that offends me I just let it go and scroll on by. But this article really ruffled my feathers. And I don’t think I’m the only one. The 31 year old managing editor is proposing that God wants women to work outside the home. Apparently being a stay at home mother is a thing of the past. Beaty once believed staying at home with children is a mother’s “central call”; But her perspective has changed.
I’m wanting to tell wives and mothers that there is so much inherent goodness in the call to work and that we needn’t pit certain types of roles against each other,” Beaty said. “There are ways to be a devoted wife and mother and a devoted CEO. In the church, we need to make space for women who feel called to both at the same time.”
She’s 31, and doesn’t have children yet. I don’t wish to be insensitive about the fact that she is single and doesn’t yet have children, however it is hard to be familiar with the nuances of family life if you don’t have a family. I agree we don’t have to ‘pit certain types of roles against each other.’ And of course there is nothing wrong with being a mother and a CEO. In fact I am in awe of women who can do both, however (as many women who have done both have admitted), it is very difficult to manage both. Time is a very finite resource.
Ms Beaty argues: ‘We are all called to have influence—cultural influence outside of the private sphere of the home,” Beaty said. “It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a career track, but certainly all Christians, including all Christian women, are called to have cultural influence outside the home.” Well I can’t disagree with that. But how about these statements:
While Beaty said she wants to affirm the value of the labor of motherhood, she considers it a separate category. While she isn’t willing to call full-time mothering “sinful,” she encourages women with children to assess their talents and put those to use outside of their households.
So now full time mothering is ‘almost sinful’?
“When you talk about scales of influence or scales of societal influence, a woman who is staying at home with [her] children isn’t going to have as much influence on the direction of culture,” Beaty said. “We can talk about motherhood as a specific type of calling, but I’m not ready to professionalize it.”
I couldn’t disagree more. And I’m a bit baffled why The Atlantic would choose to publish something that is disrespectful to so many women. I don’t want to get into the tired old mummy wars. They really are a bit petty, and there are more important battles to be fought in the world. However, it’s telling that the author of this article doesn’t actually have children yet, and consequently, she may not really comprehend the enormity of the task of mothering. Guess what? All mothers work. Whether that is in the workforce or in the home – it’s all work. And not to mention the boatload of volunteer work that mothers contribute, whether they are employed outside the home or whether they work at home. Who do you think helps at preschools, runs the school fair, helps with the soup kitchen or runs the soccer club? Society would be lost without it’s army of volunteers.
One expects the devaluing of mothering and homemaking in the world. But now we have these disparaging voices in the church too? I’m not suggesting that women give up their jobs and tether themselves to the kitchen sink, however we have to be respectful of the different seasons that women are in. Furthermore, who says that how we influence society is a measure of our worth? God’s word says we are valuable just because of who we are, not because of what we do. We need to stop confusing who we are with what we do.
The author also raises the issue of women’s opportunities to serve in church and in society. This is a separate issue I believe. I agree that women should be treated as equals in ministry and should be wholly free to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory. I am sorry that the author has been overlooked in business meetings. This is not right. It’s not something that you would expect in 2016, but sadly many women still encounter discrimination in church and in the workplace. I agree that workplaces need to be far more family friendly for working mothers. And I also agree that not all women are cut out to be stay at home mothers or homeschoolers (God help me if I was ever called to homeschool!).
What I strongly disagree with is the idea that any work that is out there in the world is valuable and anything inside the home isn’t. If we really want to influence culture, this starts at home. Whether we work outside the home or at home, we need to prioritize our children, and this is going to look different for each family. For many of us, our greatest contribution to society may be who we raise. Much has been written recently about the crisis that we are seeing in children’s mental health. I would argue that disrespecting the important work that is done between the walls of one’s home really doesn’t help this matter. We need to value the home, for the health of the nation and the next generation depends on this.
‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.’